Has COVID-19 triggered a new wave of veganism?

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Animal product sales are plummeting

Recent reports show animal product sales have plummeted, so does this mean that a new wave of veganism is in motion? Urner Barry indices showed a 10% drop in pork value, Indian poultry sales decreased by 50%, and Irish cheese sales plunged by over 75%. While the industry is under pressure due to sickness and retail closures, many in the meat industry are afraid this downward curve is a consequence of fears surrounding Covid-19. 

What are people afraid of?

In Northern Ireland, a poultry-processing factory held a walkout over concerns surrounding the virus. Workers were afraid their health and safety was at risk, because of tight working conditions and constant contact with raw meat products. 

While scientists have discovered links between wild animals and past viruses such as the swine flu and sars-CoV-2, it is yet to be clarified whether we can catch the coronavirus from animals too. 

However, much of what has been circulating the Internet has sparked a very different idea. 

Earthling Ed, renowned for his vegan activism, stated in one of his Facebook posts: “Covid-19 started because we eat animals. Ebola, swine flu, bird flu, HIV, SARS and vCJD started because we eat and exploit animals. Covid-19 would not exist if the world was vegan.” 

Not long after this post went viral, much of the meat community were outraged. But after his points were discussed in the Guardian and Earthling Ed released several videos to back-up his argument — it would be quite difficult to argue that Covid-19 is not a consequence of meat eating. His Animal Rights Organisation Surge has just released a white paper on how we can prevent the next global pandemic.

How is this affecting the plant-based industry?

Trends in sales are now showing that people are leaning more towards plant-based products in these unprecedented times. Indeed, we could be seeing an entirely new wave of veganism.

In the US, while meat products continue to sell, Nielsen reports show meat alternatives have boomed over the last month. With a two-week surge of 280% in plant-based meat products and a 230% rise in dried beans, a staple for most vegetarian and vegan individuals. 

Thus raising the question on whether plant-based demand is on the rise for fears of Covid-19, or for personal benefit. 

Is it fear or is it comfort?

Mintel research reveals a third of those cutting back on meat do it for their health. Many people could be following a healthier diet, which they believe involves cutting out meat, to avoid underlying conditions if they catch Covid-19. 

However, the rise in vegan demand may also be a link to the lockdowns. A third of the global population is under stricter measures. Thousands are being blocked from going outdoors, which may be damaging to mental health. Turning to a plant-based diet could be used as a way to challenge one’s self, or to make one feel as though they are actively benefitting the world – despite being stuck inside.  

Some people may ask for more plant-based produce because it genuinely feels good. Recent research says that following this specific lifestyle could reduce inflammation; relaxing people who suffer from poor mental health. 

Covid-19 and veganism

While it is yet to be established whether or not Covid-19 has been a direct consequence of our relationship with animals, the strong belief in this concept has triggered a whole new type of consumer, driven to a new wave of veganism, in the wake of a global pandemic.

Though this new type of vegan may only last as long as our global lockdown, this trend could help human beings re-shape the way we farm and trade our livestock, as well as keep us healthy while we currently undergo self-isolation.

Next up: COVID-19 Has Made A Vegan Diet More Appealing To Millennials According To Report

Olivia Rafferty
Olivia Rafferty
Olivia is the Assistant Editor of The Vegan Review. An aspiring Middle Eastern correspondent currently studying journalism at City, University of London, she is passionate about the planet, she believes veganism is the first step to solving the complexities of climate change.